Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)
“I think we summoned the devil”
One of the most important things I can tell you about this book is that most of it takes place in a library. Sure, there’s a resident devil, but don’t let that put you off. This is a library with seven floors of books, including countless grimoires, and a secret passageway. I’m pretty much ready to move in.
I liked Tess’ ability to come up with creative insults and her dedication to her younger sister. I was really looking forward to seeing how her experience with ghosts, having “grown up under the watchful presence of a host of ghosts that haunted her family’s central Pennsylvania farmhouse”, was going to come into play. Unfortunately, while I definitely saw opportunities for some helpful chats with the recently deceased, this remained firmly in fun fact territory.
I also liked Eliot, who made an indelible impression on me when he requested 147 books from the library at once. My kind of bookworm. His love for his mother made me like him even more. It also didn’t hurt that he smells like pages and vanilla.
While I liked both Tess and Eliot, I never really connected with either of them. The emotion wasn’t there for me and the one scene that I was expecting would ramp it up happened off page.
There is an actual devil in this book but the Big Bad for me was Eliot’s father. He’s absolutely detestable.
I liked the story and wanted to know what was going to happen but this wasn’t the compulsive read I had expected.
Content warnings include mention of bullying, emotional abuse, physical abuse and self harm (either unintentional or for blood magic). Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with one scene.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath the school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He’ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent. Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.